Farm-to-table movement catches on in Lakewood, residents seek hen permits

LAKEWOOD, OH (WOIO) - Urban Farming is becoming more popular and community gardens have been popping up in parks and neighborhoods all over northeast Ohio.

In Lakewood, some homeowners have decided to get permits to keep hens in their yards.

"It's been a learning process for us. It's been really fun," said Annie Stahlheber, who owns five chickens in Lakewood.

Stahlheber's part of Hens in Lakewood, an organization that worked hand-in-hand with the city of Lakewood to allow people to keep chickens at home. It's a farm-to-table movement Cleveland Metroparks Naturalist Bethany Majesky said is catching on.

"I think that the trend is becoming bigger regionally, even nationally. A lot of people are really interested in where their food is coming from and they want to kind of connect with that," Majesky said.

The growing trend is why organizations are holding classes to educate people on chicken ownership. Tuesday night Majesky instructed a course at the Lakewood Public Library. Lakewood residents who want to own chickens must attend one of the two hour courses and get a permit.

Majesky, who owns chickens herself, said the course helps people understand the responsibility that comes with owning hens.

"Is this really a right decision for you? These are live animals, they do have some specific care requirements," she said. "Are you up for the commitment? If you have the flu in February, you still have to go out there and feed and take care of these birds."

Lakewood passed the ordinance two years ago allowing up to six hens per household. Stahlheber's one of about 20 people with chickens in Lakewood.

She said her chickens help with compost for her garden. Although it can be a lot of work, she said she likes the fact her food source is steps away from her backdoor.

"We know where our eggs come from and we know we're feeding them good things," Stahlheber said.

In addition to Lakewood, a few other cities, including Cleveland and Cleveland Heights, also allow chickens. If you have questions, it's best to reach out to the Cleveland Metroparks visitor center or your local zoning board.

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